Stimming: Why Do People Stim & How To Manage

Last Update on August 25, 2021 : Published on November 26, 2020
Why do people stim

Stimming is known as a self-stimulatory behavior where a person is involved in self-repetitive behavior. This behavior acts as a pleasurable and fun activity to ease out the anxiety, frustration, boredom or hyperactive feelings. We have mostly connected stimming with autism but the truth is that we all stim from time to time. However, not all of us show clear signs to others.

Also Read: 10 Incredibly Famous People With Autism Are An Inspiration For All

So what are the examples of stimming that show self-repetitive behavior in a human being? They include:

  • Verbally repeating phrases at random
  • Slapping oneself
  • Head banging
  • Banging hands or fists on other objects
  • Nail biting
  • Turning lights on or off
  • Twisting or twirling hairs
  • Tapping feet, fingers or body parts
  • Rocking and spinning
  • Sniffing at other people
  • Rearranging different objects
  • Rubbing or scratching your skin

However, not everyone repeating the behavior is autistic. So what’s the difference between autism stimming and stimming in non-autistic individuals?

Also Read: Johari Window: Your Ultimate Tool For Building Self-Awareness

How Does Autistic Stimming Different From Non-Autistic Stimming?

As we know that most of us get into stimming behavior like constantly shake our legs or bite our nails, it is harmless until you realize when and where it’s done. For example, if you are shaking the table with your feet constantly without even realizing that it is disturbing people in your surroundings.

When it comes to people with autism, stimming goes for a prolonged duration and the individual keeps repeating his behavior without understanding others. It happens because an autistic person has less awareness of his social surroundings.

Also Read: Communication And Mental Health: Why Is It The Key To Mental Wellness

However, stimming may not be a huge cause of concern unless it begins interfering with personal learning, induces destructive behavior, or results in social exclusion.

Why Do People Stim?

People stim because it helps them to cope with stress and frustration. It also lets them concentrate on their work and save them from boring or challenging tasks. Because stimming acts as a crucial step to gain self-control and making sensory distractions easier, it looks like a pleasurable experience.

However, an autistic person stims to

  • Express themselves when communication is not easy for them
  • Reduce anxiety and calm themselves
  • Adapt an unfamiliar environment
  • Avoid certain situations or expectation
  • Decrease the sensory overload

Autism stimming could also appear to ease physical discomfort or pain in the body. If someone you love is facing a medical problem, it is best to see a doctor immediately.

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Can Stimming Be Managed?

Stimming could be managed by an individual if they can figure out the reasons behind it with complete mindfulness. Some tips to manage stimming are:

1. Try to follow a schedule for your daily tasks and stick with it. When you plan your day in advance and roam around it, the chances of being anxious cuts down by itself and stimming reduces.

2. Give yourself a calming treat so that stress is lowered down. If it needs to do stretching, listening songs or watching a funny video, act on it.

3. Encourage the idea of self-control and relax down.

4. If your loved ones are stimming, explain their actions rather than completely blaming them.

5. Include exercises in your daily routine like walking, running, performing yoga or simply breathing exercises. It is because physical activity can keep you balanced and calm to a greater extent.

Can Therapy Help In Managing Stimming?

 Therapies can help in managing the stimming behaviors of autistic as well as non-autistic people. The most common ones applied for stimming are:

1. Family Therapy:

Family therapy is given to cope with stimming by addressing the sensory environment, developing the strategies to manage emotions and addressing conflicts between family members. The therapy is also meant to find out if the person is going through any neurological or mental health condition and help the family members understand the particular condition.

2. Individual Therapy:

Individual therapy for stimming helps a person to release their emotions and understand the behavior for management of emotions. Therapists also teach meditation and techniques for anxiety management, thus resolving the issue of stimming.


It is understood now that why do people stim. Hence, try figuring out the points that trigger you for stimming or else connect with a therapist by dropping us an email at

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.

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